The fuselage of Air Force One. A recreated model of the Oval Office. The collections of fine china from first families dating back to George Washington.
These are among the rare sights that thousands of delegates converging on Philadelphia this summer for the Democratic National Convention will get to see as part of “PoliticalFest,” an educational and entertaining program of events planned to run parallel to the official business of the convention.
“The guests and delegates are going to be blown away,” former Pennsylvania Gov. and Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) host committee, said at a press conference at the National Constitution Center on Thursday morning.
While delegates and other politically connected guests get in for free, it’s also going to be open to the public to make the DNC a more fun event for the rest of the city.
“This isn’t going to be a bother," Rendell said of the DNC. "It’s going to be an exciting opportunity for the people of Philadelphia."
PoliticalFest is Rendell’s “brainchild,” originally cooked up back in 2000 when as mayor he hosted the Republican National Convention.
“It was an enormous success, so we decided to do it again,” Rendell said.
The motivation for the program was the simple idea that when they’re not listening to speeches or participating in caucuses and committees, delegates and politicians in Philly for the DNC are going to need something to do.
This convention’s PoliticalFest will be a six-day series of events and exhibits around the city with fun and educational programming for adults and children alike exploring the history of democracy in the United States.
Eight Philly Phlash buses will be operating a continuous loop between the National Constitution Center, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, National Liberty Museum, and other well-known location, all free for delegates and their families.
The National Constitution Center in Old City will be a “hub of activity,” Rendell said.
Events hosted there will include Q&A’s with actors who have portrayed the U.S. president and a political trivia game with Democrats from the state, local and national level. Rendell joked that he wants to see Mayor Jim Kenney go head to head with Council President Darrell Clarke.
There’s also going to be an NCAA-style trivia tournament between members of media organizations ranging from Buzzfeed to Politico to the Inquirer and Daily News.
“Future leader zones” will include games for children, while kids will also be able to attend 30 minute classes on subjects like how to become president and how primaries, caucuses and conventions work.
The Constitution Center will be broadcasting on continuous loop two historic speeches – the inauguration speech of John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama’s 2008 speech on race in America, delivered at the Constitution Center during his campaign for office.
C-SPAN will bring its Campaign 2016 Bus to Philly for the Fest as well, with multimedia educational programs inside to educate visitors about the electoral process.
Meanwhile the Convention Center will have exhibits with the Oval Office replica, the collections of White House china dating back for centuries, and photos of First Families and their pets.
PoliticalFest will also go toward getting delegates and visitors to experience the city, Rendell hopes.
“Our goal has always been to showcase Philadelphia,” he said.
Rendell estimated the value of the “exposure” Philly will get during the convention from media to be worth more than $100 million of advertisements, as every state and territory sends local media to cover the activity of their delegates.
“During the day when there’s no speeches, they’ll be getting what they call ‘local color,’” Rendell said. ‘The delegates posing with the Rocky statue, delegates going to Pat’s for a cheesesteak, the delegates coming to PoliticalFest. Now multiply that by 56 (states and territories.)”
If you go
PoliticalFest events will be held from July 22 to 27 at:
-National Constitution Center (525 Arch Street)
-Pennsylvania Convention Center, Hall F (1101 Arch Street)
-National Liberty Museum (321 Chestnut Street)
-Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent (15 S. 7th Street)
-The Philadelphia Library Company (1314 Locust Street)
-Historical Society of Pennsylvania (1300 Locust Street)
-Heritage Center at the Union League (140 S. Broad Street)
Access to the exhibits and Phlash buses will be free for delegates, other political figures and their families.
For the public, tickets will cost $15 for adults, $5 for kids, seniors and students, and free for active duty military or veterans.
Once purchased, tickets grant entry to exhibits at all seven locations and rides on the Phlash buses for all six days of PoliticalFest.